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The Latest | Slovenia recognizes a Palestinian state, and new fighting flares in central Gaza

Slovenia is the latest European country to recognize a Palestinian state. The country’s parliament voted Tuesday in support of the move, following in the recent steps of Spain, Ireland and Norway.

Slovenia’s prime minister has said he sped up efforts to recognize a State of Palestine in reaction to Israel’s expanding invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The monthlong offensive has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians who are facing widespread hunger.

In central Gaza, the Israeli military said Tuesday that its troops backed by airstrikes have launched a ground operation into the Bureij refugee camp. Local hospital officials say a strike in the urban camp killed 11 Palestinians, including three children and a woman.

The Israeli airstrikes and ground offensives across the Gaza Strip come as international mediators wait for Israel and Hamas to respond to a new cease-fire and hostage release proposal, according to Qatar, which has played a key role in negotiations alongside Egypt and the United States.

Announcing the proposal last week, U.S. President Joe Biden said the three-phase plan was Israeli, however Israeli leaders have since appeared to distance themselves from the proposal and vowed to keep fighting Hamas until the group is destroyed.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched the war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Around 80 hostages captured on Oct. 7 are believed to still be alive in Gaza, alongside the remains of 43 others.

Currently:

— The U.S. urges U.N. Security Council to support a cease-fire plan in Gaza announced by President Biden.

— Proposed Gaza cease-fire puts Netanyahu at a crossroads that could shape his legacy.

— Iran’s acting top diplomat dismisses U.S.-proposed Gaza cease-fire deal in visit to Lebanon.

— Palestinian officials apply to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide at the top U.N. court.

— Israeli airstrikes near Syria’s Aleppo kill several, including an Iranian adviser, reports say.

— Israel declares four more hostages are dead in Gaza.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Here’s the latest:

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WARNS OF GROWING DESPERATION AND HUNGER IN GAZA

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. humanitarian chief says fuel and truckloads of food are desperately needed in Gaza, pointing to the massive looting of a U.N. convoy carrying aid and the theft of 27 of the 61 trucks last weekend as examples of lawlessness and the dire situation of hungry Palestinians.

Martin Griffiths told a U.N. press conference Tuesday that the United Nations doesn’t have the capacity to deliver humanitarian assistance at scale in southern Rafah, where Israel is carrying out a ground and air operation, or in central Gaza where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled the latest attacks.

Because of insecurity caused by the fighting, he said, there are also fewer aid workers to manage aid distribution to more than a million people in need, so “only a trickle” of food and other items are getting through to the neediest.

He called Saturday’s looting of 52 trucks carrying food and nutritional supplements for children, partial looting of nine others, and the recovery of only 34 of the 61 trucks in the World Food Program convoy a “terrible event” and “a seminal event.”

While the U.N. is remaining in Gaza, Griffiths said, it’s unable to deliver nearly enough aid.

The U.N. and its humanitarian partners need all border crossings to reopen, the damaged U.S. pier to finish repairs repaired, and assurances of security and safety for convoys and aid workers, he said.

Griffiths said that for months, the U.N. has been calling for a humanitarian cease-fire, for safety and security on all convoy routes, and for embedding U.N. planners and humanitarian staff with the Israeli military “so that we can make sure that our movements are safe.” But this has not happened, he said.

Meanwhile, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF warned that if nutrition supplies can’t be distributed, more than 3,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition will be have their nutrition supplies interrupted, U.N. associate spokesperson Florencia Soto-Nino said.

And in Rafah city, she said, the World Health Organization reported that the United Arab Emirates field hospital is the only facility providing health services, but ongoing hostilities are making it increasingly difficult to reach.

SLOVENIA RECOGNIZES A PALESTINIAN STATE, FOLLOWING 3 OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia recognized a Palestinian state on Tuesday after its parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move, following in the recent steps of three other European countries.

Slovenia’s government endorsed a motion last week to recognize a Palestinian state, and had sent the proposal to parliament for final approval, which was needed for the decision to take effect.

Parliament on Tuesday voted 52 for with no one against recognition in the 90-seat parliament. The remaining lawmakers were not present for the vote.

Slovenia’s decision came days after Spain, Norway and Ireland recognized a state of Palestinian, which was condemned by Israel. Previously only seven members of the 27-nation EU officially recognized a Palestinian state. Five of them are former East bloc countries that announced recognition in 1988, as did Cyprus, before joining the EU. Sweden’s recognition came in 2014.

WASHINGTON LAUNCHES BIG DIPLOMATIC PUSH FOR GAZA CEASE-FIRE

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has launched an intense drive to convince not only Hamas and Israel to accept a new cease-fire proposal in the nearly eight-month-old war in Gaza but is also pressing Arab nations to get the militant group to go along with the terms.

It comes as President Joe Biden suggested in a Time magazine interview published Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be prolonging the war against Hamas to ensure his political survival. Biden, who gave that interview a week ago, seemed to dial back his criticism in a brief exchange with reporters following an immigration speech at the White House.

In response to a question about whether Netanyahu is playing politics with the war, Biden said “I don’t think so. He’s trying to work out the serious problem he has.”

Netanyahu faces a far-right coalition that has threatened to break up his government if the prime minister agrees to a new cease-fire proposal, which Biden announced Friday as an Israeli plan. Since then, Biden and his top aides have not only pressed for Israel and Hamas to approve the deal but also have been working the phones to get Arab and Muslim nations to urge the militant group to agree to it.

Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have all made calls, and Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, will be heading to region this week to further make the case for the deal.

ISRAEL LAUNCHES GROUND OPERATION INTO CENTRAL GAZA REFUGEE CAMP

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — The Israeli military said Tuesday that ground troops backed by airstrikes have launched an operation in central Gaza’s Bureij refugee camp.

Local hospital officials say a strike on a home in the camp killed 11 Palestinians, including three children and one woman. A strike on another house in the neighboring Maghazi refugee camp killed two men, according to officials at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the nearby town of Deir al-Balah, where the casualties were taken.

The extent of the Israeli incursion into Bureij camp was not immediately clear as of Tuesday evening. The military said in a statement that it was conducting “a precision operation” in the camp targeting Hamas positions.

Israeli forces have been battling militants in parts of Gaza that the army said it wrested control of months ago — potential signs of a simmering insurgency.

The military waged an offensive earlier this year for several weeks in Bureij and several other nearby refugee camps in central Gaza.

Troops pulled out of the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza last Friday after weeks of fighting caused widespread destruction. First responders have recovered the bodies of 360 people, mostly women and children, killed during the battles.

Israel has also been expanding its nearly month-old ground offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah. More than 1 million Palestinians have fled Rafah, mostly into tent camps that have arisen across central and southern Gaza.

Refugee camps in Gaza originally housed Palestinians who were driven from their homes in what is now Israel in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s founding. Over the decades since, they have been built up into crowded urban districts.

A PERMANENT CEASE-FIRE MUST BE PART OF ANY DEAL WITH ISRAEL, HAMAS OFFICIAL SAYS

BEIRUT — A senior official with the Palestinian militant group Hamas said it will not accept any deal with Israel that does not clearly lay out a permanent cease-fire and a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Osama Hamdan said Hamas has told mediators that it was “waiting for an Israeli response regarding this matter.” Speaking Tuesday to reporters in Beirut, he said that Israel is seeking to bring the hostages held by Hamas out of Gaza, then resume the war there.

Hamdan’s comments came days after a cease-fire proposal, announced by U.S. President Joe Biden, offers the possibility of ending Israel’s war against Hamas, returning scores of hostages held by the militant group and quieting fighting on the northern border with Lebanon.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Qatar said Tuesday that Qatar and the other mediators, Egypt and the U.S., were still waiting for a response from both Israel and Hamas to the proposal. Majid al-Ansari said “clear ideas” had been put to the two sides, but “we do not have clear positions on it from both sides.”

The Qatari spokesman pointed to disputes within the Israeli government, where ultra-nationalist allies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have threatened to bring down the governing coalition if he signs onto a deal without destroying Hamas. Netanyahu says the deal includes provisions that ensure that goal — although none were publicly stated in Biden’s announced outline.

Al-Ansari said the “principles (of the proposal) bring together the demands of all parties.”

Hamdan said Hamas described Biden’s announcement as “positive.”

“We cannot accept an agreement that does not guarantee and confirm a permanent cease-fire and full withdrawal from Gaza followed by an (prisoners) exchange,” Hamdan said. “This is what we want as Palestinians, and any Israel ideas that contradict this do not concern us and have no value.”

Hamdan said that there are thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails adding that any deal should lead to their release. Around 80 hostages captured by Palestinian militants on Oct. 7 are believed to still be alive in Gaza, alongside the remains of 43 others.

SENIOR BIDEN ADVISER HEADING TO MIDEAST THIS WEEK, U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden is dispatching a senior adviser, Brett McGurk, back to Mideast this week for talks on the hostage for truce negotiations between Israel and Hamas as well as to discuss about the situation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, according to a U.S. administration official.

The official requested anonymity to discuss the yet to be publicly announced travels for McGurk, the White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa.

McGurk has been shuttling between Washington and Mideast capitals throughout the nearly eight-month Israel-Hamas war for talks with key regional stakeholders.

This visit comes after a new cease-fire proposal was transmitted to Hamas last week. The Israeli plan could immediately bring home dozens of Israeli hostages, free Palestinian prisoners and perhaps even lead to an endgame in the war.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that Hamas has yet to offer its formal response to the proposal.

McGurk is also expected to discuss Israel’s ongoing military operations in Rafah with regional leaders.

Israel launched its ground assault into the city on May 6, triggering an exodus of around 1 million Palestinians out of the city and throwing U.N. humanitarian operations based in the area into turmoil.

Still, in the eyes of the Biden administration, it has yet to amount to a “major operation.” The U.N. humanitarian office reported Monday that only about 100,000 Palestinians are still in the city of Rafah.

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Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed.

WHITE HOUSE ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN MEETS WITH FAMILIES OF AMERICAN HOSTAGES IN GAZA, U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS

WASHINGTON — White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met on Tuesday with families of Americans that are being held hostage in Gaza, according to an administration official.

The meeting comes as Biden is pressing Israel and Hamas officials to accept a three-phase hostage for truce deal and potentially end the eight-month war in Gaza. The official was not authorized to comment and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Israeli officials say about 80 people captured by militants in the Oct. 7 attack are still alive and Hamas is holding the bodies of 43 others.

Sullivan has periodically met and held calls with families of the American hostages throughout the nearly eight month crisis.

President Joe Biden in an interview with Time magazine published Tuesday said that he still believes Americans being held are alive, but acknowledged that U.S. officials “don’t have final proof on exactly who’s alive.”

Hundreds of people, including relatives of the captives, gathered outside Israel’s Defense Ministry and military headquarters in central Tel Aviv late Monday, calling for a hostage release deal. Smaller protests took place across the country.

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Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed.

360 BODIES RECOVERED FROM JABALIYA REFUGEE CAMP IN NORTHERN GAZA AFTER LATEST ISRAELI OFFENSIVE

CAIRO — A spokesman for Gaza’s civil defense says first responders recovered the bodies of 360 people, mostly women and children, killed in the urban refugee camp of Jabaliya during a three-week Israeli offensive there.

Satellite photos showed extensive new damage in Jabaliya from the offensive, which ended with Israeli troops pulling out on Friday. The photos — taken by Planet Labs PBC on May 8 before the assault and on June 1 — showed that the camp’s main marketplace had been destroyed and in several places entire blocks had been wiped away.

The Israeli military launched the assault on Jabaliya in early May, saying it was targeting Hamas militants who had regrouped there after repeated previous offensives in the densely built district.

The military said the assault saw tough close-quarters fighting with Hamas militants during which it carried out some 200 airstrikes. At the operation’s end, the military said it had destroyed 10 kilometers (6 miles) of underground tunnels and other Hamas infrastructure. Troops also found the bodies of seven hostages.

Mahmoud Bassal, spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defense, said Tuesday that 360 bodies had been found so far buried under rubble or strewn in the streets. Some were retrieved while the offensive was ongoing and others after the Israeli withdrawal on Friday.

He estimated around two-thirds of the bodies were women and children. Among them were 30 people killed from one extended family, the Asaliya, including 22 women and children, he told The Associated Press. He said the search for bodies was still underway.

Jabaliya camp originally housed Palestinians who were driven from their homes in what is now Israel in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s founding. Over the decades since, it has been built up into a crowded urban district.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE COUNTS MORE THAN 500 KILLINGS OF PALESTINIANS IN THE WEST BANK

GENEVA — The U.N. human rights chief says his office has counted the killings of more than 500 Palestinians by the Israel Defense Forces and settlers in the West Bank since Oct. 7.

Volker Türk renewed his call for an end to violence in the West Bank after two Palestinian teenagers were killed near Aqabat Jaber refugee camp in Jericho over the weekend, and four other Palestinians were killed Monday by Israeli security forces.

That took the death toll of Palestinians in the West Bank to 505 since the deadly rampage by Hamas-led militants from Gaza in Israel on Oct. 7, according to his office.

“As if the tragic events in Israel and then Gaza over the past eight months were not enough, the people of the occupied West Bank are also being subjected to day-after-day of unprecedented bloodshed,” Türk said in a statement Tuesday. “It is unfathomable that so many lives have been taken in such a wanton fashion.”

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, 24 Israelis — including eight security force members — were killed in both the West Bank and Israel in clashes or alleged attacks by Palestinians from the West Bank, the rights office said.

The U.N. office said Israeli forces have often used lethal force “as a first resort” against Palestinian protesters throwing stones, firebombs and firecrackers at Israeli armed vehicles.

Turk lamented “pervasive immunity” for crimes committed by Israel security forces, saying allegations of unlawful activity must be investigated and those responsible held to account.

The Israel diplomatic mission in Geneva, where the U.N. rights office has its headquarters, said “Palestinian terrorist factions” were increasing their activities in the West Bank, with the “complicity and lack of leadership” of the Palestinian Authority.

“This is the reality that the High Commissioner chooses to ignore and dismiss,” the mission said. “Israel will not allow the West Bank to be turned into another terrorist stronghold.”

The U.N. rights office uses a strict methodology to confirm casualties in conflict zones, and its count could fall short of the actual toll.

PALESTINIANS RETURN TO KHAN YOUNIS TO FIND HOMES DESTROYED AND NO INFRASTRUCTURE

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Palestinians displaced from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis are setting up tents atop the ruins of their obliterated homes.

Many residents who fled fighting in the city months ago were once again forced to flee Israel’s offensive in the southernmost city of Rafah. The returnees came home to a barely recognizable city, their homes part of a vast landscape of ruin.

“This is my house but I cannot see where its foundations or borders are. I cannot find where it used to begin and end,” said Ayad Abu Khries, who returned to Khan Younis after being displaced to Rafah.

In one gutted second-floor apartment, a woman heated a pot on a makeshift stove — the building a shell surrounded by rubble. One family’s laundry hung from a rope and dangled above piles of stone, metal rods and other debris.

Israel withdrew troops from Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city, in April. Residents quickly returned to find what remained of their homes. The incursion into Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had been sheltering before fleeing again, prompted a new influx of returnees back into Khan Younis. The United Nations says more than 1 million Palestinians have fled Rafah, many of them having already been displaced multiple times.

Those who have returned to Khan Younis have struggled to find services. Some residents who came back said they must walk a mile or more to access food and water.

“The infrastructure is destroyed. There is no electricity or sewage system or water of anything. We live in tents and life is exhausting,” said Basima Moammar, who is living in a tent near her destroyed home.

ISRAELI STRIKES KILL 11 PALESTINIANS OVERNIGHT IN THE GAZA STRIP

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinian health officials in the Gaza Strip said Israeli strikes killed at least 11 people overnight into Tuesday, including a family of three and eight police officers.

A strike on a home in the built-up Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza late Monday killed two parents and their young daughter, while a second strike early Tuesday hit a police vehicle in the central town of Deir al-Balah, killing eight officers with the Hamas-run Interior Ministry.

An Associated Press journalist counted the bodies as they arrived Tuesday at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah and confirmed the details with hospital records.

Israel says it tries to avoid harming civilians and blames Hamas for their deaths because the militant group places fighters, underground tunnels and rocket launchers in dense, residential areas. The military rarely comments on individual strikes.

U.S. President Joe Biden has recently detailed an Israeli cease-fire plan that the sides were considering.

The war, sparked by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and noncombatants in its tally. Many of the dead have been women and children, the ministry says.

BRUSH FIRES SPARKED BY FIGHTING WITH HEZBOLLAH INJURES 6 SOLDIERS, ISRAELI MILITARY SAYS

TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israeli military said Tuesday that six soldiers were lightly injured in a brush fire in the country’s north that was sparked by fighting with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

The blaze, which has been raging since Sunday, was mostly under control Tuesday, according to Israeli Army Radio. The military said it had sent reserve soldiers and equipment to assist Israel’s Fire and Rescue services to stamp out the blaze.

Fires sparked by fighting have ignited sporadically in recent weeks, but this week’s blaze was more widespread and appeared to cause more damage. Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority said around 10,000 dunams (2,500 acres) burned across northern Israel this week as a result of the brush fires.

Significant damage was caused to several nature reserves and parks that will take years to rehabilitate, the Nature and Parks Authority said. A total of nearly 40,000 dunams (9,900 acres) have burned since the end of May in multiple brush fires, many of which were started by rocket and other projectile fire launched by Hezbollah, the authority said.

Sharon Levy, the director of the Golan Region at the Nature and Parks Authority, said the dry summer season was exacerbating the fires.

Hezbollah began launching rockets at Israel a day after the war in Gaza broke out with Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. Since then, Israel and Hezbollah have been trading fire daily in violence that has pushed the region to the brink of wider war.

ISRAEL KILLS 2 SUSPECTED MILITANTS IN THE WEST BANK

TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israeli military said Tuesday it killed two Palestinian militants who were attempting to launch a shooting attack toward Israeli communities from the occupied West Bank.

The military said the two approached the West Bank separation barrier and were killed by Israeli forces. The military provided a photo of a rifle it said the men were set to use to carry out the alleged attack.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant group in the area, claimed the men as its fighters, saying they were killed while carrying out a shooting attack near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem.

The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the deaths.

Residents of Israeli communities just outside the West Bank have reported an uptick in shootings emanating from the occupied Palestinian territory in recent days.

A surge of violence has gripped the West Bank since the October start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Israel has been cracking down on militancy in the West Bank, killing more than 500 people there since the start of the war, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Many of them were killed in fighting with the military or for throwing stones at troops. Others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.

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